The Tribe confirmed this weekend that Cliff Lee will begin rehabilitation on his strained abdominal muscle and be out for a minimum of 4-6 weeks. He is going to start the regular season on the Disabled List and hopefully will be ready by late April.
There are two ways to look at this one. On the down side, the Indians have notoriously been very slow starters out of the gate since Eric Wedge has taken over and not having a proven commodity in the starting rotation won't help that. Although Lee had a bit of an off year last year (14-11, 4.40) he hasn't missed a start in the last three seasons and has pitched over 200 innings over the past two years. This definitely won't help Lee's quest to return to his 2005 form (18-5, 3.79) which would be a great addition to the solid #1 and #2 contributions they get from C. C. Sabathia and Jake Westbrook.
On the other hand, the Indians will get to see first hand if Fausto Carmona has fully recovered (and has selective amnesia of) his failed trial-by-fire in the closer's role. Carmona has the tools to be a piece of the Indians' puzzle for years to come but their failure to define his role and continuous shuffling between the rotation and bullpen hasn't helped his development. If he can block out the vision of the Red Sox series in Boston last year and refine his delivery motion (which the Tribe claims was his problem) then it gives the Indians a safety net if one of their other starters goes down for a substantial amount of time.
We'll see how this pans out for the Tribe, but not a good thing to have happen before the camp breaks. Starting pitching has been the strength of the ball club over the past 3 years and they do have depth in the minors but with Cliff Lee they have a proven commodity with Fausto Carmona we don't know yet.